Written in respect and honor of Martin Luther King's & his Legacy.
Amid the racial unrest that’s been taking place in our nation since the death of George Floyd, questions concerning the real progress of Blacks since slavery and even the Civil Rights Movement have been a topic of discussion in black circles. While some say that nothing has changed, which I try to veer away from for the reasons I explain in a previous post, others say it’s time to take more drastic and even militant measures. Videos of Blacks striking back along with signs and shirts reading that “We are not our ancestors...” highlight the thoughts of many who say that if Blacks are pushed in this day and age, unlike those in the past, we will fight back and it won’t be pretty. Of course, this brings Martin Luther King’s methods under fire and subtly suggests that he and his followers were not aggressive or bold enough to do what needed to be done to secure Blacks their freedom. However, on this day that we recognize MLK's legacy, I want to show that not only did King’s methods work, they reveal that even though confusing, how God's ways are better and higher than our own.
We often attribute non-violence movements to the legacy of Martin Luther King but actually this idea comes from God. With this in mind, it shouldn't be surprising that many would have problems with His way of doing things as they often appear backward to us. To save humanity, He came here to die. In order to gain life, the Bible says we must lose it. And to attain the things that we want most in life, we are instructed not to seek them but instead to first seek God. These contradicting examples, among many others, not only sound counterintuitive to most but appear to take us in a completely different direction than where we want to go. This causes many to be confused and skeptical of God's ways, and that's if they don't lose faith in them altogether.
But the reason God's ways seem wrong and backward to us is that we are only able to judge and see the world through our five senses and whatever little knowledge we've gained in our short experience of life. Viewing things from this narrow perspective automatically lends itself to incomplete information and places our focus more on what we can see, feel, and etc., which is motivate by our needs and desires. Such thinking most often produces fast and easy solutions that give us a sense of gratification or relief but often have little to do with actually solving our problems. With this thinking, the world rotates from one whack-a-mole solution to the next, all the while creating more problems as we claim to be cleaning them up.
However, God sees things from a massively broader and deeper perspective, along with unfathomable knowledge and information. He sees beyond our present, unjust past, needs, and feelings. In fact, His view stretches across eternity and includes the universal laws and spiritual principles that our very existence was founded upon. With this view, He can see what is happening on the surface and also the root of problems underneath. He can see how the problems we face are related to the past and also how, if unresolved, they will affect the future. This makes Him able to offer precise tailor made solutions that not only fix the problem, but eradicate its ability to continue spreading.
So often, our way of doings things clashes with God because while we are unknowingly looking for incomplete or quick fixes, which includes simply expressing our rage, God aims to solve our issues eternally. He doesn't just seek to save and secure justice for just Blacks, but for the entire world. Unfortunately such solutions require more time, effort, energy, and sacrifice than what most are willing to pay which is why we are so quick to label them as wrong.
But, God doesn't tell us to love our enemies simply to spread love in the world (Mat 5:44). He doesn't ask us to turn the other cheek just to be abused in this life because we will reap paradise in the next (Mat. 5:39). He tells us this because not returning violence for violence and evil for evil will reveal the source of the problem which is the heart and mind of those who perpetrate evil. And revealing the source produces the best chance we have of actually changing things.
Returning a hit to someone who hits me—which is an easy, immediate, and not well thought out response to a problem--does nothing to address why the hitting started in the first place. In fact, in God's understanding of our fallen condition and eternity, He knows that hitting only results in more hitting, and as the saying goes, before it's all over, the whole world will simply end up blind. Nevertheless, even in a blind world, the likelihood of the real problem being addressed is slim to none. And with such being the case, after everyone's vision is gone, people will commence to taking fingers and toes. This is how problems don't just continue, but when not thoroughly addressed, they get worse.
To Build or Destroy
But by asking us to refrain from simply functioning on a superficial level of quick fixes and the relief that comes from retaliating on our enemies in kind, God is inviting us to look at things through His eyes. He is asking us not to be consumed by the condition we find ourselves in but to grab hold of the knowledge, power, and insight He offers to defeat and rise above it. He is sharing with us what it takes to free not just Blacks, but to loosen the chains that all too often bind human hearts and minds. He is unveiling the transforming power that can come from simply allowing people to see themselves.
When people are fighting, it's easy to loose sight of who is in error. Also, fighting rarely fixes anything but instead prolongs and escalates problems. Not only does harm and loss of life increase but the destruction it causes ripples throughout family's and time. If anyone desires to actually fix a problem, fighting is never a viable option. However, if one person is doing all the hitting while the other is restraining and refraining from returning a lick, it shines an inexcusable light on who actually has the problem. It takes any question of justification and sets it square in the lap for perpetrators to have to answer.
In this way, when the newly invented television broadcasted images of powerful hoses, vicious dogs, and over the top brutality inflicted upon non-violent men, women, and even children for simply sitting at lunch counters and the like, it made the underlying evil of racism and white supremacy hard to deny. Not only did this put pressure on those in power to take action to cover America’s shame, but it held up a mirror to a nation that had made the absence of humanity normal and acceptable. Such images, although viewed by some as weakness up until today, garnered the most significant changes for America and especially Black America to date. MLK's insistence on applying God's method of a non-violent approach is the very reason we Blacks have many of the rights we enjoy today.
Instead of fostering more hate and destruction, non-violence made silent and smothered voices bold, loud, and hard to ignore. It invigorated blacks to reclaim their dignity, even forcing many whites to take a hard look at themselves and inevitably join with black voices to demand change. It also gathered support from around the globe to stand up for what is right and bound people together in unity, hope, and love that shines in direct opposition to humanity's greatest evils. And even today these voices continue to grow causing the protest of 2020 to become one of the largest in American history. Non-violence echo's through time as it continues to inspire a nation and the world in ways that reminds us all of the deep and intrinsic value of our mutual humanity.
Say what you want about non-violence, no militant based group has ever been able to make even a 10th of these claims. Indeed, non-violence doesn’t offer us the quick fixes our short-sighted nature prefers and denies us the temporary relief of simply lashing out, what it does offer is something more than violence can ever do. Non-violence is not just a means of protest, but it fosters a force that restores life and hope to our world. Through non-violence it becomes clear that true power doesn't come from the ability to tear down or destroy but to rebuild and restore.
It's Your Choice
I know that some will say, as I have heard them say, that if non-violence was so great, why are blacks still being killed and discriminated against today? My reply to that is the only reason anyone would expect a 350-year-old problem to be resolved within 14 short years is simply out of a desire to avoid putting the same blood, sweat, and tears that our ancestors did.
If they got us this far on the sacrifices of others, when not even 150 years ago, we were still slaves, and a little more than 70 years ago, we didn’t have the rights we have today, it is only right for us to continue the fight for future generations without complaining that there is something unfair about it. What is fair is that we handover a better world to those who will come after us in the same way it was handed down to us. And that we don't fumble the progress that's been made simply to express the rage that robs us of seeing a bigger picture. The question of which method to use boils down to how you answer this question, do you want to use your life and anger to heal or to destroy? Even God himself says, it's your choice.
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Prayers for peace for our nation have been flooding my social media pages this last week in a way it hasn’t before. This is understandable in the wake of an ambush on the Capitol that hasn’t taken place since the War of 1812. When things like this happen, I think its normal for people to feel rattled as it threatens our way of life and intrudes upon the peace and stability we need to provide for and protect ourselves and our families. Nevertheless, while this is an understandable response, it is not a spiritual one. The truth is that as Christians, we should not only refrain from praying for peace in this world, but in many ways we shouldn't even be expecting it.
Born On A Battlefield
All too often, it seems Christians forget amid our technologies, struggles, needs, desires, responsibilities, and rights that we are living in a fallen world. This fallen world doesn’t just mean that life is hard or that we are born spiritually separated from God but that our lifetimes are spent dead smack in the middle of a battlefield. Unfortunately, instead of us putting on the armor that God has given us to fight and win the battle, too many Christians are building their homes, decking it out with nice furniture, and trying to be comfortable right on the front lines. We spend so much time and energy trying to make life better for ourselves that we forget about the spiritual warfare that is also taking place on a much larger scale. Then, when things happen that remind us that we are at war, we are quick to start scrambling and praying for peace. But in too many cases, what we are often praying for is the ability to go back to living like we are not at war.
Satan is king
One of the main things about being Christian is that we are to see life from more than just our five senses but also grow to perceive it from our spiritual ones. When we learn to do this, we know that a word is not only fleeting syllables that come from our mouths, or that angry people aren't just upset about a bad day, and that what might look like losing is not always defeat.
Well in the same respect, we should know that no matter how nice and even comfortable life can seem at times, especially for us Americans, or how caught up we become in our personal goals and challenges, it doesn’t change the fact that Satan is the ruler of this world. And if we believe as the Bible says that Satan is the ruler, does it really make sense to pray for and expect peace in our nation? Better yet, is sustained peace even possible? Furthermore, what does it mean when the soldiers that God has on this earth to do His will and defeat the enemy are instead praying to live with him in peace?
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Matthew 24:6
Get Behind Me Satan
Praying for peace during war reminds me of Peter, telling Christ that He wouldn't die after He revealed his destiny of the cross to the apostles. What may have seemed to Peter's natural eyes as genuine concern for a loved one and friend, Jesus responded by calling him Satan (Matt. 16:21-23).
Some may say that praying for peace for our nation is different and that there is nothing wrong with doing so. If so, how could we even expect such prayers to be answered when the scriptures not only warn us that these things will happen but that they MUST happen, and we shouldn't be afraid when they do (Matt. 24:6-8). So, if these things must happen and God tells us not to be afraid when they do, aren't we being like Peter when we are instead praying for peace—the total opposite. Aren't we, like Peter, praying more for earthly concerns instead of aligning ourselves with the will and plans of God?
Even Jesus said I have not come to bring peace but a sword (Matt. 10:34). And right before He left the apostles and ascended to heaven, He said, I do not pray for the world but only those you have given me (Jhn 17:9). The supernatural reality is that the world's turmoil is a product of living in a fallen state. This turmoil and our inability to sustain peace are often the very things that help us recognize our need for a savior— for Christ. If it was always peaceful or we could sustain peace for any significant period of time, no one would ever need or acknowledge God and be none the wiser.
Not My Will
Instead of praying for peace in times like these, what we should be praying for, as Jesus did in the garden when he clearly did not want to suffer through a crucifixion is, "not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:41-43). And then receiving and resting in God's strength and supernatural peace to complete our task and weather any storm that comes. Instead of trying to hold on to our comforts, being so rattled by what we are seeing, or simply focusing on making life easier and better for ourselves and our loved ones, we ought to be trusting God even when everything around us begs and encourages us to do otherwise.
If we continue praying for peace and plastering it across social media, we not only give ourselves false hope but unintentionally make a mockery of God for those who point the finger and say, look, your God did not answer. We also set ourselves up to waiver in our faith as we may eventually feel unheard and invisible to God. We also show that we have a little more growing to do as our spiritual eyes have yet to grow beyond our natural ones.
So set this idea of praying for peace in the nation aside and put on your spiritual armor, and start praying that God's will be done and helping to save souls in this war. Let's demonstrates God's peace, strength, and resilience that makes those shaking in the their boots wonder about the God we serve. Let's remember that we are not only God's children, but also his soldiers.
This World Is Not Our Home
In these polarizing political times, many Christians are falling prey to all deceptions of all kinds. Deceptions that come in the form of conspiracy theories, fears, and promises to provide more comfort and security in this life while labeling it as God's will. These tactics are not new; however, to avoid falling for them, we need to be aware of the enemy's schemes and what the Bible says about Christians relationship to this world.
With every New Year come reflections of the past and new plans, goals, and expectations for the future. With 2020 this couldn't be truer as we anticipate the pandemic and a tumultuous presidency coming to a close as well as gaining a better understanding and brighter future when it comes to racial equality in America. Nevertheless, as New Year's resolutions are anticipated, made, and brought before God through prayer, we must be mindful to keep these things in perspective or risk allowing them to eclipse God's will in our lives.
Praying and hoping for better careers, more money, healing, restored relationships, health, and a fairer world, among other things, are not a problem in and of themselves. However, they can become so when we are so focused on transforming the circumstances of our lives and world that we place God's will on the backburner in favor of our own and place natural things before spiritual truths. In this mindset, God becomes our servant instead of us serving Him. Earth becomes our home instead of a pit stop along the way. And our relationship with Him becomes purely about success and happiness in this life instead of our spiritual growth and maturity that's required for the next. Not to mention working on His behalf to save lost and broken souls.
Unfortunately, it's very easy for us to make our plans and not remember to leave room for and remain aware that God's will is greater and sometimes comes at the cost of what we want most. We so easily forget that it's not always His will to make our lives easier and even fair, especially at the expense of teaching us how to see life through His eyes instead of the narrow view of our own. We sometimes think that because we seek after, believe, and decree that God can and will do these things for us, we exemplify what it means to have faith, but faith is trusting God's plan for our lives, not merely trusting him to perform our own.
As children of God, we must learn how to separate ourselves from this world and commune with God in a place where the cares of this fade away and only He becomes our focus. We must grow in our ability to see beyond the desires and troubles of this life and bask in the joy, fulfillment, and peace of His perfect plan regardless of how things look. We must learn to leave room for His will even as we plan out our own and allow him to prepare us and use our lives for His purpose.
So, as we plan our goals and dreams for this new year, let's add God's plans to the list too. And remember that whatever we give to God, He gives it back to us tenfold. If you need help understanding God's will for your life and making corresponding plans, sign up for a free session to gain valuable insight.
Stephanie K. was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She has a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and various coaching certifications. (read more)
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